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So You Wanna Start River Fishing? 

(Editor's note: ARF's own Creekn stepped up to the plate and wrote this excellent primer on what it takes to get started fishing rivers and creeks)

So youíve found the website and it sounds like fun. You wanna give it a try, but you have never fished before. Well, letís see if we can get you river fishing.

    One of the great things about river fishing in Alabama is that anyone can do it. You donít need the $200 rods, the $30k bass boat, or membership in any clubs. All you need is some basic equipment, a little knowledge, and the urge to use it. In this section, I will assume that you have no gear and very little money. Even if you have tons of money, why spend it if it isnít necessary?

    Rods and reels- For someone just starting out fishing, I would suggest a combo rig. You can go with a spinning rig, or spincast, or even a baitcaster. For simplicity's sake (and value), I suggest you start with the venerable Zebco 33.Itís ease of use and simple design make it unthreatening to the beginning river fisherman, and it is more than capable of standing up to most fish you're likely to encounter during your first days of river fishing. Now that you have your rod and reel, the next thing to do is practice casting. Keep in mind that weíre not talking about casting in the middle of a 1000 acre lake, weíre talking about river fishing. You need to be able to hit small targets, with little room over head, while standing in the middle of a 15í wide rocky creek. A little practice now will save some lures on your first trip.

    Tackle-Tackle for river fishing need not be complicated. One of the things you need is, of course, line, but guess what? You already have it! Your combo came prespooled with line, so on to a tackle box. For a box, you donít want a large one. Remember weíre going river fishing and you gotta carry this stuff. Most of the big box stores have a small Plano box that you can pick up for less than a buck, and it fits in a shirt pocket. This will be more than enough.

    Now what do you put in this box? If I had to choose one lure to keep me fed, without a doubt, it would be a Beetle Spin. This lure will catch anything that swims, from tiny panfish to large bass. If you really want to go minimal and just catch fish, you could stop here, but why would you do that? While youíre there go ahead and pick up some inline spinners. The Mepps Aglia has been unchanged for many years, mainly because it works. The same can be said of  Wordenís Rooster Tail. The inline spinners will cost a few bucks apiece, but they are deadly. If the store youíre shopping has knockoffs,get them, because they work too. You can add to this list as you like, but there is no need. Keep it simple. You should pick up some forceps to aid in removing hooks from the mouths of fish. $2 is a small price to pay for helping ensure the health of the fish you release.

    Clothing-Letís assume its warm, as thatís when most people go fishing. Drag out the old grass cutting sneakers,the swim trunks that got bleached out by the hot tub on your last Gatlinburg trip,and a shirt with pockets. The shoes will be fine, but be careful on rocks. If you decide that you love river fishing, youíll want to get felt soles for wading on rocks. The shorts are just to keep you from getting arrested. The shirt needs pockets,to keep your tackle box out of the water, because your going to be wet wading. What I consider the most important parts of you clothing will be your hat and sunglasses. These are vital safety items, and will enable you to spot more fish. If you're fishing in direct sun, please wear a wide brimmed hat to protect your ears, neck and face from the sun. If you are fishing a shady mountain stream, a baseball cap will provide shade for your eyes, helping your vision. Speaking of vision,you must have polarized sun glasses. If they arenít polarized, they arenít working for you. Good fishing sunglasses are available for less than $10 at the same place you bought the rest of your tackle. GET THEM! If you wonder why, look at the streambed without them, then put them on and look at the same streambed. Nuff said.

    Where to Fish-Wherever there is moving water! If a stream has water in it, there are fish in it. That drainage ditch running around your subdivision most likely has fish in it. That little creek you cross on your way to work is probably a great spot. There are no rules other than donít trespass. There are numerous books, websites and maps that can point you to streams where you can fish. You didnít think I was going to give you my secret spots did you?

In closing,for less than $50 anyone can get the equipment they need to start enjoying Alabamaís many streams and rivers. Can you spend more? Sure. Do you need a boat? No, but you may eventually want one. Will you catch fish? Only if you go fishing. 

See ya on the river,

Josh Tidwell (Creekn)



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